Photo/Illutration The Annual Health, Labor and Welfare Report 2022 says Japan faces a shortage of around 1 million medical and welfare service workers in 2040. (The Asahi Shimbun)

Japan is set to face a shortage of around 1 million medical and welfare service workers in 2040, when the country’s elderly population is expected to almost peak.

The government offered this dire warning in its Annual Health, Labor and Welfare Report 2022, presented to a Cabinet meeting on Sept. 16.

Securing a sufficient number of workers is “one of the most important agenda items facing social security services,” the report said.

In the meantime, frontline workers in social security services are pressing for improved working conditions.

Officials projected the shortfall in numbers based on anticipated economic growth and demographic changes in Japan.

They concluded that demands on medical or nursing care services will grow further from 2025, the year the baby boomers will become 75 or older.

They estimated that in 2040, when second-generation baby boomers will be 65 or older, medical and welfare services will require 10.7 million workers.

By that time, only 9.74 million workers are expected to be available, leaving a shortfall of 960,000 people, the report warned.

A total of 8.91 million people worked in medical or welfare services as of 2021, a 1.9-fold increase over the course of approximately 20 years, according to statistics.

However, as the number of working age people--those between 20 and 64--will fall significantly in coming years, it will be impossible to secure the necessary workforce, officials say.